[Editor's Note: My Top 21 of the 21st (So Far...) is a retrospective feature where our writers were invited to write a list of top 21 favorite songs, albums or anything else music-related, of the new millennium, explaining why it was picked, or what particular significance it has had over the past ten years. (There is an ongoing debate on whether or not 2000 A.D. counts as part this millennium. For sake of argument, we're going to go ahead and count it. Hey, a lot of good music came out that year, anyway, so suck it up, and enjoy the feature.)]
Each of these albums (or songs) from the past ten years, I can listen to right now and be satisfied. Here’s why:
Pink – Funhouse (2008)
With songs are so raw and genuine, and so well put together, this album epitomizes sincerity.
Common – Be (2005)
I love his delivery on this album, with the jazz infusion. Every song’s my favorite.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2006)
It depresses the hell out of me, but it’s so raw and unforgiving, and the songs are written so well. I can’t say enough; it’s one of my favorite albums ever.
Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
Sooo… I love Jigga. But I’m not a biased fan. This is not his best, but lyrically, it’s great, and refreshing that isn’t boasting about being rich and famous. I felt like I was getting the real Jay-Z here.
Raheem DeVaughn – Love Behind the Melody (2008)
Along with Anthony Hamilton, he is one of the best we have as far as good soul music. The “club” tracks don’t move me but the slow grooves are amazing.
Talib Kweli – “Get By” (Quality, 2002)
Talib delivers a new classic and Mr. West is at the top of his production game.
Busta Rhymes (f/Everyone Else) – “Touch It” [Remix] (2006)
Production-wise, this song cannot be denied. And it has something for everyone. And MJB’s alter-ego makes her debut…
Kanye West – “Heard ‘Em Say” (Late Registration, 2005)
Pre-Yeezy, Pre-VMAs, Pre-808s & Heartbreak, Pre-B.S. …
Joell Ortiz – “Hip Hop” (The Brick: Bodega Chronicles, 2007)
Joell Ortiz has that real N.Y. sound, and lyrically, the man can definitely put words together. This song just feels real, and the production adds so much.
Lupe Fiasco – “Hurt Me Soul” (Food & Liquor, 2006)
This song feels so much like hip hop to me. It reminds me of a new-school version of “The Message”.
Erykah Badu – “Bag Lady” (Mama’s Gun, 2000)
Some of the truest ish I’ve ever heard.
Mario – “Let Me Love You” (Turning Point, 2004)
Despite having not the best vocals in the world, he delivers one of the best R&B songs in recent years. I will still play this song like it’s new. And my mother likes it… go figure.
Ne-Yo – “So Sick” (In My Own Words, 2006)
One of the best songwriters my generation will see, Ne-Yo has a way of getting a song across.
Alicia Keys – “You Don’t Know My Name” (The Diary of Alicia Keys, 2003)
This song is one of her best. She is also one of the best performers our generation can claim, and she actually has the talent to back it all up.
Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” (St. Elsewhere, 2006)
‘Bout time someone admitted how insane we all are…
OutKast (André 3000) – “Hey Ya!” (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2003)
I don’t care where it’s played, I’m dancing (and I do not dance).
Nelly Furtado – “I’m Like a Bird” (Whoa, Nelly!, 2000)
I simply love it. It was a proper debut and whatever style she was going for really worked. Which is more than I can say for that “Promiscuous” song.
Kelly Clarkson – “Because of You”
Kinda makes you want to cry every time. And she was still a teenager when she wrote it.
Linkin Park – “In the End”
Get revenge to it.
Sugarland – “Stay”
Vocally, this is grade-A and it’s sung with unfettered passion. And not to mention the songwriter’s talent…
Goapele – “Closer”
This song is like a prayer.
Tags: Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Andre 3000, Busta Rhymes, Common, Erykah Badu, Gnarls Barkley, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Linkin Park, Lupe Fiasco, Mario, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, OutKast, Pink, Sugarland, Talib Kweli